Nanaimo man has plans to bring back the whales

Robert Barron Daily News

Friday, September 12, 2008

http://www.canada.com/nanaimodailynews/news/story.html?id=6f1cd155-5556-4841-9f00-6d1fb8374a74

Dan DiDio has visions of Nanaimo harbour and Departure Bay once again being awash in fish and whales.

The retired computer specialist from Nova Scotia has been canvassing Department of Fisheries and Oceans and the province to see if they’d be interested in setting up a herring hatchery in Nanaimo waters, using simple technology that would draw more fish and whales into the area.

He said his plan is to set up a platform on a barge with Christmas trees suspended underneath, where eggs can be placed and young herring can hide from predators, until they are large enough to begin their ocean migrations and return to the area to spawn, like salmon.

A DFO official agreed such a plan could work.

“By introducing a lower part of the food chain in some numbers back into the area, we would likely see more fish and whales coming back into Departure Bay and Nanaimo harbour and just imagine what kind of a tourist draw that would be,” DiDio said.

“A similar operation was recently begun by the First Nations in Port Hardy. People can fish and sight-see from the platform and other avenues can also be explored over time, like maybe aquaculture operations, that would make the project self-sustainable and wouldn’t require taxpayers to fork over money for it.”

DiDio said his idea to rejuvenate local aquatic ecosystems and draw in more tourists would cost no more than $10,000 to start and he’d even consider paying half the cost if DFO and the province agreed to assist.

“I don’t know if government will assist with some funding as well as providing some space in the water for such an operation, but I’m trying and I have my fingers crossed,” he said.

A DFO specialist on herring, who asked not to be identified, said First Nations “historically practised” similar means for herring production and trees and branches in intertidal areas were used to sustain and protect herring spawn.

“It’s doable, but there’s no guarantee that herring born in Nanaimo waters will return here to spawn, but it’s true that salmon and grey and humpback whales are attracted to herring and herring spawn,” he said.

RBarron@nanaimodailynews.com

250-729-4234

© The Daily News (Nanaimo) 2008

~ by fredfelleman on September 14, 2008.

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